“Fulfillment was already there”: Debord & ’68 | Situationist International

Andy Merrifield discusses the influence of Guy Debord and the Situationist International on the events of May ’68.

On the brink of working class and student insurgency came Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967), the radical book of the 1960s, perhaps the most radical radical book ever written. Its 221 strange theses give us stirring crescendos of literary power, compelling evocations of an epoch in which unity spelt division, essence appearance, truth falsity. A topsy-turvy world where everything and everybody partook in a perverse paradox. Debord mocked the reality of this non-reality, an absurd world in which ugliness signified beauty, stupidity intelligence, subjecting it to his own dialectical inversion, his own spirit of negation. This was theory that identified enemy minefields and plotted a Northwest Passage, getting daubed on the walls of Paris and other cities during May 1968: “POWER TO THE WORKERS’ COUNCILS,” “DOWN WITH THE SPECTACULAR COMMODITY ECONOMY,” “THE END OF THE UNIVERSITY.”

Its refrains were all over the modern high-rise environment at the University of Paris-Nanterre, a classic scene of urban isolation and separation, a “suburban Vietnam,” where a peripheral new town university coexisted with working-class slums and Arab and Portuguese shantytowns. The place was sterile, sexually and socially repressive, and totalitarian. This was the spirit of a society without any spirit. The same centralisation, hierarchy, and bureaucratic obsession persisting in the educational sector persisted in other aspects of the French state. Tough rules governed student dorms and freedom of movement; classes were overcrowded, resources stretched; professors were distant, student alienation rife. The right-wing Gaullist regime attempted to modernise the economy, in line with Common Market membership, and unemployment was growing.

At the University of Strasbourg, two years prior, a handful of Situationists had intervened; angry students of Henri Lefebvre and friends of Debord. They’d riled and denounce, tried to revolutionise students with an influential pamphlet called “On the Poverty of Student Life—Considered in its Economic, Political, Psychological, Sexual and especially Intellectual Aspects, with a Modest Proposal for its Remedy.” They’d infiltrated the National Union of French Students (UNEF), accused students at Strasbourg of pandering to a society dominated by the commodity and the spectacle. Student poverty was a poverty of ideas, a poverty of guts. Students were really “submissive children,” labour-power in the making, without class consciousness. They accepted the business and institutional roles for which the “university-factory” prepared them, never questioning the system of production that alienated all activity, products, people, and ideas. The Situationist’s text struck a chord; translated reprints extended its audience, notably to the U.S., Britain and Italy. In Strasbourg, the document caused a scandal; a coterie of students refused to be integrated. Critical awareness gathered steam over the next year and a bit, until, in late March of 1968, it blew a gasket at Nanterre.

On Friday, March 22nd, assorted Situationists, young communists, Trotskyists, anarchists, and Maoists invaded the university’s administration building, and began occupying it. The week before, the “Committee of the Enragés and the Situationist International” had been established. Its members put up posters and scribbled slogans on the walls of Nanterre and the Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter: “TAKE YOUR DESIRES FOR REALITY,” “NEVER WORK,” “BOREDOM IS COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY,” “TRADE UNIONS ARE BROTHELS,” “PROFESSORS, YOU MAKE US GROW OLD,” “IF YOU RUN INTO A COP, SMASH HIS FACE IN.” In early May, “the March 22 Movement” met with UNEF at the Sorbonne. The authorities tried to break up the meeting; instead they only unleashed its latent power. The gendarmerie mobile poured into the Sorbonne’s courtyard and encircled its buildings. Several thousand students fought back, inside and outside, ripping up paving stones on the street. Skirmishes broke out elsewhere, spreading both sides of the Seine, flaring up at Châtelet and Les Halles. On May 6 and 7 a huge student demonstration took over the Boulevard Saint Michel and thoroughfares near rue Gay-Lussac; protesters overturned cars, set them ablaze, dispatched Molotov cocktails, and manned the barricades.

On May 13 there was a one-day general strike. With the French Communist Party (PCF) and general worker’s union (CGT) joining the action, “student-worker” solidarity suddenly looked possible. Situationists and students took over the Sorbonne. On one revered fresco they emblazoned the caption: “HUMANITY WILL ONLY BE HAPPY THE DAY THE LAST BUREAUCRAT IS HUNG BY THE GUTS OF THE LAST CAPITALIST.” Exams had been cancelled at the barricades; sociologists and psychologists became the new cops. Next day, in Nantes, workers at the Sud-Aviation plant occupied their factory and locked out the bosses. Meanwhile, Renault workers at Cléon in Seine-Maritime followed suit. Then the Nouvelles Messageries de la Presse Parisienne launched a wildcat action, halting newspaper distribution. Workers’ councils linked up with students’ councils, becoming comrades in arms. The working class, at last, declared its unequivocal support for the student movement when rank and filers at Renault-Billancourt took over France’s largest factory.

By May 20 strikes and occupations became contagious. Nationwide, around 10 million workers downed tools and froze assembly lines. France seemed on the precipice of revolution; a festival of people was glimpsed. Alienation was cast off, momentarily; freedom was real; capitalised time abandoned. Without trains, cars, Metro and work, leisure time was reclaimed, time lived. Students and workers seized the contingent situation, acted spontaneously, created new situations, realising something what no trade union or party could ever do, or wanted to do. And yet, as quickly as things erupted, they were almost as speedily repressed, by state and bourgeoisie, soon backed by the Communists and the CGT. The optimistic promise, the beach beneath the paving stones, had dissipated, for now. The music was over. There was no other side to break on through to.

The occupation of Paris was, and still is, seen throughout the world as an event of historical significance. Solidarity between workers and students had for a moment expressed itself; so too direct action militancy and student internationalism. From the LSE to Berkeley, from Columbia to Nantes, from the Sorbonne to Barcelona, dissatisfaction had spread like wildfire. At the same time, The Society of the Spectacle’s demands, as Debord would write (with Gianfranco Sanguinetti) in The Veritable Split in the Situationist International (1972), “were plastered in the factories of Milan as in the University of Coimra. Its principal theses, from California to Calabria, from Scotland to Spain, from Belfast to Leningrad, infiltrate clandestinely or are proclaimed in open struggles…The Situationist International imposed itself in a moment of universal history as the thought of the collapse of a world; a collapse which has now begun before our eyes.”

In old photos of the student occupations of the Sorbonne, Debord is visible in the thick of the action, lurking with intent. He was no student himself, nor was he particularly “youthful”: in May 1968, Debord, the freelance revolutionary, was thirty-six, older than a lot of junior professors, and almost twice the age of many student leaders (like Daniel Cohn-Bendit). He must have seemed like an old guy to many kids, somebody’s dad drinking in the student bar. Already his appearance had started to deteriorate. Surrounded by a large crowd of student activists, we can see him standing side on, without glasses, wearing a white jacket. His face is a lot puffier than a decade earlier; a boozer’s physiognomy was rapidly becoming apparent. By comparison with other ’68ers, who were mere political toddlers, he was a veteran provocateur.

Debord and other Situationists were genius agitators and organisers, and their presence was felt, practically and theoretically. The spirit of The Society of the Spectacle was there, even if some kids had never read nor fully understood it. On the other hand, Debord was frequently the most sectarian, invariably falling out with allies—especially falling out with allies, being most ruthless with old friends and former comrades. “Guy was a very tenacious person,” Jean-Michel Mension, a past oustee, remembered in his Situationist memoir The Tribe. “He was already very hard—very strict in the way he conceived of existence with this person or that.” There “were certainly jokers who became part of Guy’s group merely because they were friends of so and so, people who had no business there and who lasted only six months or a year before Guy found them really idiotic and kicked them out.”

Debord likewise dissed former pal Henri Lefebvre, the Nanterre Marxist professor, denouncing him as an “agent of recuperation.” He said the sexagenarian philosopher had stolen certain Situationist ideas. Debord reckoned Lefebvre’s take on the 1871 Paris Commune was almost entirely lifted from SI’s pamphlet, “Theses on the Commune” (1962). “This was a delicate subject,” Lefebvre recalled in a 1987 interview. “I was close to the Situationists…And then we had a quarrel that got worse and worse in conditions I don’t understand too well myself…I had this idea about the Commune as a festival, and I threw it into debate, after consulting an unpublished document about the Commune that is at the Feltrinelli Institute in Milan.”

Both Lefebvre and Debord believed the Commune some sort of historical antecedent of 1968. For seventy-three days, between March and May of 1871, when Prussian forces at war with France surrounded Paris, the city had become a liberated zone of people power. The barricades went up, even across Haussmann’s mighty boulevards, amid the carnivals and pranks. Freely elected workers, artists, and small business owners were suddenly at the helm. Their rally cries were territorial and urban; their practice was festive and spontaneous. The Communards, until the National Guard massacred 20,000 of them, launched a revolt in culture and everyday life, demanded freedom and self-determination, crushed Louis Napoleon’s authority as he’d once crushed their freedom, occupied the streets, shouted and sang for their “right to the city.”

For the first time, it looked like a working-class revolution wasn’t merely possible, but imminent. In “Theses on the Commune,” Debord said the Situationists believed that the “Commune was the biggest festival of the nineteenth-century” (Thesis #2). “Underlying the events of that spring of 1871,” he went on, “one can see the insurgents’ feeling that they had become the masters of their own history, not so much on the level of ‘governmental’ politics as on the level of their everyday life.” “The Commune,” Thesis #7 said, “represents the only realisation of a revolutionary urbanism to date.” It “succumbed less to the force of arms,” the next thesis explained, “than to the force of habit.” “Theoreticians who examine the history of this movement,” continued #11, importantly, “can easily prove that the Commune was objectively doomed to failure and could not have been fulfilled. They forget that for those who really lived it, the fulfillment was already there” (emphasis in original). “The audacity and inventiveness of the Commune,” #12 stated, “must obviously be measured not in relation to our time, but in terms of the prevailing political, intellectual and moral attitudes of its own time, in terms of the interdependence of all the prevailing banalities that it blasted to pieces.” “The social war of which the Commune was one moment,” declared the penultimate #13, “is still being fought today. In the task of ‘making conscious the unconscious tendencies of the Commune’ (Frederick Engels), the last word is still to be said.”

In the wake of May ’68, Debord released a film version of The Society of the Spectacle, dedicating it to wife Alice Becker-Ho, whose beautiful image, clad in flat cap, leaning on a wall with a cigarette drooping nonchalantly from her mouth, fills one frame. It evokes an Alice-cum-Brando’s Wild One pose: “Alice, whattya rebelling against?” “Whaddya got?” The film’s dialogue closely follows Debord’s original text, but the rapid-fire captions, disarming classical music, and exaggerated footage make it visually stunning. There are battle scenes and moody vistas of Paris, spliced between images of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Castro, all giving speeches; Debord plainly disapproves. There are news clips from the ’68 Renault strike, with workers locked inside the factory by the unions; scenes from the Bourse alive with frenzied traders, participating in money mayhem; there’s a vision of the Tower of Babel amid pitched battles from Vietnam and Watts (Los Angeles), circa 1965; Paris’s streets are ablaze, and students can be seen fighting cops; there are burning barricades at night, the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917, street altercations in Italy in the 1960s, Italian police leaping from jeeps, truncheoning a crowd of young people; West German security forces patrol another street, while Soviet tanks push back German workers in Berlin in June 1953.

The Society of the Spectacle, the movie, sealed a magical era for Debord. “Whoever considers the life of the Situationists,” he contended a few years later, “finds there the history of the revolution. Nothing has been able to sour it.” It was how it’d been for the Communards, who really lived it, whose fulfillment was already there. Fulfillment was already there for Debord, too: he really did live it in ’68, and now the music was over. Nothing could sour it. Yet as the dust settled from 1968, emptiness prevailed in the ruins. Many soixante-huitards suddenly found themselves stuck between the rock and the hard place, between a degenerative past and an impossible future. For a moment, the dream of spontaneous freedom became real, in wide-awake time. An instant later, it disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Source: Verso

The Neglected History of the May ’68 Uprising in France

Source: The Neglected History of the May ’68 Uprising in France

On the morning of June 10, 1968—a couple of weeks after French labor unions signed an agreement with Prime Minister Georges Pompidou to put an end to a crippling general strike—workers at the Wonder battery factory in the northern Parisian suburb of St. Ouen voted to return to the job.

Later that afternoon, as union representatives conferred outside the factory gates with the rank and file, an amateur camera crew captured the scene. The group’s 10-minute film, Wonder, May ’68, focuses on a young woman who has drawn a crowd around her.

“No!” she barks at her union rep, fighting back tears and shaking her head as he tries to console her by listing management’s modest concessions. “I’m not going back inside. I’m not putting my feet back in that prison.”

The woman has the unmistakable glow of raised expectations, that special energy that comes from successful collective action. When you convince yourself you’re capable of changing the world by banding together with your co-workers, the feeling of power that results doesn’t fade easily. In France, during the months of May and June 1968, millions of other workers caught the bug: Between 7 and 9 million went on strike. Hundreds of thousands of them did so while occupying their factories, as at Wonder in St. Ouen.

The fact is all too often neglected, if not outright forgotten, today. The unprecedented wave of protests and strikes that swept across France for a few weeks in 1968—known today simply as “May ’68”—was, at its core, a workers’ movement. This was the largest wildcat general strike in the history of capitalism: a mass revolt against low pay, poor working conditions, and the hierarchical, dehumanizing organization of the capitalist workplace itself.

Events in the Left Bank of Paris simply provided the spark. Ironically, they’ve since become better known than the actual strike movement. On May 3, hundreds of college students gathered for a general assembly in the courtyard of the Sorbonne University. Administrators responded by calling the riot police—the infamous CRS—who subsequently marched onto campus and arrested hundreds of protesters, including student leaders. This, in turn, enraged the burgeoning student movement, culminating in nighttime skirmishes with the CRS known as the “Night of the Barricades.” On the morning of May 11, French people woke up to images of smoldering barricades in the heart of Paris, of overturned cobblestones, of riot cops beating students.

Then, the most important phase of the revolt kicked off.

On May 13, France’s two largest unions—the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) and the French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT)—joined students in solidarity marches across the country, decrying police repression. While unions themselves didn’t call for further action, workers took initiative on their own, launching strikes and occupying factories across France. First, the Sud-Aviation factory outside of Nantes; eventually, plants belonging to Renault, Citroën, and the state-run energy company; soon, the postal service, the public rail company, and the entirety of the country ground to a halt.

The strike wave lasted for weeks. As it peaked by the end of May, union and government leaders gathered for negotiations. This proved a turning point. It is not unreasonable to posit that the revolt might have continued to grow under different circumstances. Had the CGT and the closely linked Communist Party thrown their full weight behind the workers’ movement, France might have drawn closer to full-scale political change. Instead, the country’s two largest left-wing organizations encouraged an end to the crisis. Enticed by a national agreement that ensured enhanced union rights, a 35 percent hike in the minimum wage, and a 7 percent pay raise for everyone else, millions of employees gradually began to return to their jobs. In a May 30 radio address, Charles de Gaulle announced the dissolution of the National Assembly and the organization of new legislative elections. A few weeks later, the Gaullists emerged with an even larger majority.

May ’68 is simply too large of a historical fact to ignore in France today. As such, this year’s 50th anniversary saw a host of museum exhibitions, TV specials, radio programs, and new books to commemorate the uprising. Rather than focus on the strike movement, though, most highlighted the familiar pillars of what has since become the dominant narrative of 1968, in France and abroad. According to this version of events, May was, alternatively, the product of a cultural rebellion and intergenerational clash; the outburst of privileged students feeling trapped by a centralized education system; the result of Parisian kids reliving their favorite Victor Hugo novels by playing revolution; or, at its best, a protest against the social conservatism of postwar French society. All of these things may be true, but they miss the bigger picture.

Even Tony Judt, the masterful historian of Europe, fell victim to these tropes. His magnum opus Postwar devotes just a few pages to May ’68. It contains no mention of the millions of workers who went on strike. In their place, Judt makes note of the “tight red corduroy pants and fitted black shirts” apparently worn by some Parisian protesters.

Ironically, the chronological proximity of May ’68 may be partly to blame. Since the events are still part of the recent past, a relatively small bunch of well-connected politicians, artists, and writers who participated in the events have been able to disproportionately shape collective memory. Since these unofficial experts of ’68 tend to speak from both personal experience and positions of authority, they receive an unusually generous benefit of the doubt. Other critics have observed as much. Rather than history, the general public is treated to a series of their interpretations treated as fact.

Of course, many of these former radicals have, by now, spent the bulk of their careers as either centrists or right-wingers: people like Alain Finkielkraut, the ex-Maoist who became an anti-communist “New Philosopher” alongside Bernard-Henri Lévy (commonly called BHL) in the mid-to-late 1970s; Romain Goupil, a filmmaker and ex-Trotskyist who supported the American war and occupation in Iraq; or Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the emblematic anarchist-leaning student leader who was later elected to the European Parliament and now backs Emmanuel Macron. Not only does their version of May ’68 nicely reflect today’s dominant ideologies—recasting May as a cultural rebellion avoids uncomfortable questions like the exploitation of labor and the distribution of wealth—but the life stories of BHL and company have the added benefit of fitting a media-friendly trope: the fiery young idealist who grows up and turns rightward.

While prominent ex-radicals have spilled much ink on ’68, they tend to avoid much talk of the workers’ rebellion. This makes sense from their perspective. For true believers in the liberal capitalist order, May ’68 is much easier to understand this way. After all, it is a profoundly unsettling thought that millions of people could be so unhappy with the supposedly democratic society in which they live—so enraged at what they put up with on a daily basis at work—that they’re willing to put their jobs on the line to change things. May ’68 retains its subversive aura because of what it suggests about the stability of our advanced Western societies: Possibilities for revolt are much greater than they appear on the surface.

As any trade unionist worth his or her salt knows, there is no such thing as a “spontaneous” job action. An unexpected development can sometimes trigger a movement, but workers act together only under certain conditions. They have to share grievances, for one. But just as importantly, they must trust one another and have confidence they can win the struggle they embark upon. France in the late 1960s encouraged this sort of thinking: Left-wing parties and labor unions were deeply present in the lives of the working class, supplying wage-earners with a culture of solidarity and a well-known history of resistance, from the Paris Commune to the Popular Front to the Maquis to mass strikes following the Liberation. At the same time, French employers were especially antagonistic, seeking to hit government-imposed production targets by maintaining tightly organized workplaces and downward pressure on wages.

Pay wasn’t so good. While the trend pales in comparison to the United States since the 1970s, Thomas Piketty’s research has shown that income inequality in France reached a postwar peak around the years 1967 and 1968, hitting its highest levels since the 1930s. Although unions and employers engaged in nationwide collective bargaining at the time, they often failed to lift up those at the bottom of the ladder.

In addition to subpar compensation, workers often had little say on the job, with few chances of career advancement and effectively zero input over the production process. Employers maintained strict classification schemes that left the lowest-paid categories of the work force, the ironically termed specialized workers, feeling disrespected and ready to lash out. Understandably, the strikes of May-June gave life to far-reaching critiques about the soul-crushing nature of work itself. And to more than a few moments of vengeance in the form of “boss-nappings.” At the occupied Sud Aviation factory, workers locked their boss in his office and forced him to listen to the “Internationale” on loop.

Immigrants and women advanced their own workplace grievances alongside those of their white male French counterparts. At Renault’s flagship auto plant in Boulogne-Billancourt, North African, Spanish, and Portuguese workers came up with their own list of demands, calling for an end to discrimination and for equal union rights. French law barred most foreigners from serving as union representatives until 1972—a change brought about thanks to worker activism in 1968 and subsequent years.

The strike movement in May swelled thanks to the mass, working-class base of the labor movement and the left. About a fifth of the French work force belonged to a union at the time. This was a sign of significant influence. Unlike in the United States, union membership in France doesn’t confer additional job benefits. To hold a union card in France is to be a workplace activist, to adhere to a certain set of values. In 1968, most unionized employees belonged to the Communist-tied CGT, whose program plainly endorsed the class struggle and the nationalization of key economic sectors. In certain workplaces—especially in the auto industry and in heavy industry—union density was higher than 20 percent, and non-members were often sympathizers. While labor leaders didn’t call for May’s strike wave and CGT officials sought to bring it to an end, it is inconceivable to imagine the movement’s taking root without a base of union activists.

By the same token, the dominant force on the left was the French Communist Party (PCF). Party leaders were famously critical of the student movement in 1968, and justifiably mocked for their outmoded political vision. Still, the PCF’s presence fueled a working-class political consciousness matched in Europe only by Italy, where the Communist Party carried similar weight. French Communists had received the second-highest vote total in the previous year’s legislative elections, just behind the Gaullists. While many critics emerged to the party’s left in the 1960s, nearly all remained attached to the Marxist tradition. Thousands of these Maoists, Trotskyists, and anarchists fanned the flames of rebellion in 1968.

Once the fire started, then, it was hard to put out.

In March 1968, Le Monde ran a now-legendary column titled “When France Is Bored.” The writer lamented the apparent calm reigning over France, just as the United States rioted, Vietnam burned, and China was swept by the Cultural Revolution. It’s a reminder of how the vast majority of the French intellectual establishment didn’t see May ’68 coming. Of course, an Algerian autoworker or a public-sector union activist would have written a very different piece.

Fifty years later, in a world that has increasingly little to do with de Gaulle’s France, this seems the most striking lesson of May ’68: Working-class discontent often runs far deeper than elites perceive—or, frankly, care to understand. When teachers went on strike this spring in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky, subsequent headlines often betrayed the ignorance of the political and media establishment. Journalists called the protests “spontaneous.” Republican legislators who had spent years slashing state education budgets were similarly caught by surprise. To the West Virginia teachers working side gigs to make ends meet and regularly lamenting the state of public education at union meetings, the movement was anything but spur-of-the-moment.

In the aftermath of ’68, left-wing activists endlessly debated the revolutionary character of the movement: Were striking autoworkers who raised the red flag over their plant truly intent on overthrowing capitalism? When workers booed union leaders encouraging them to go back to work, were they ready for political change? These debates won’t be settled soon. What’s clear, in any case, is that the discontent ran deep. And for a few weeks, millions of people let it be known, almost bringing down the government in the process.

Nearly 30 years after May 1968, director Hervé Le Roux set out to discover the identity of the young woman at the center of the Wonder factory film, capturing the quest in a documentary of his own, Reprise. Le Roux does manage to track down some of her colleagues, but the end of the film is disheartening. Not only does nobody seem to know what came of her, nobody even knows her name.

May 1968: A Month of Revolution Pushed France Into the Modern World

1960s: Days of Rage

A student hurling rocks at the police in Paris during the May 1968 student uprising. The protests transformed France.

“Just six weeks after France’s leading newspaper, Le Monde, pronounced that the country was ‘bored,’ too bored to join the youth protests underway in Germany and in the United States, students in Paris occupied the Sorbonne, one of the most illustrious universities in Europe. The day was May 3, 1968, and the events that ensued over the following month — mass protests, street battles and nationwide strikes — transformed France. It was not a political revolution in the way that earlier French revolutions had been, but a cultural and social one that in a stunningly short time changed French society. ‘In the history of France it was a remarkable movement because it was truly a mass movement that concerned Paris but also the provinces, that concerned intellectuals but also…

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The Society of the Spectacle – Guy Debord (1967)

1960s: Days of Rage


The Society of the Spectacle (French: La société du spectacle) is a 1967 work of philosophy and Marxist critical theory by Guy Debord, in which the author develops and presents the concept of the Spectacle. The book is considered an important text for the Situationist movement. Debord published a follow-up book Comments on the Society of the Spectacle in 1988. The work is a series of 221 short theses. They contain approximately a paragraph each. Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation: ‘All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.’ Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as ‘the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing.’ This condition, according to Debord, is the ‘historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization

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Living the Bohemian Student Dream in 1960s Paris

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I love to find a good Paris photo story that I haven’t seen before, and this one that I found buried in Life magazine’s archives is a quite a treat. Veteran photographer for the magazine Loomis Dean followed a group of young students in 1961, getting an intimate peek into their lives as they pursued the bohemian dream in mid-century Paris.

And you know what? It doesn’t seem like much has changed. Clicking through, I noticed the routines didn’t seem so different from the Paris I’ve come to know today. Whether you start out in a tiny attic room or student dorms, throw yourself into the café culture or lose yourself in art museums, Paris is more recogniseable than ever in this photo story from decades past…

Monday nights at the local…

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The mid-week hangovers…

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Actual photo caption: “Student with a hangover”.

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To the Café! (and make it a double)…

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Close living quarters (the dorm room years)…

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A college dormitory at number 57 Rue Lacépède in the 5th arrondissement (Latin Quarter).

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There is still a café under this building called La Contrescarpe (see it here on Google earth).

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A student looking through his music.

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 A Classroom in Paris

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Students studying in a park.

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Art students visiting a gallery.

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Every hour is Apéro Hour!

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Getting to know the locals…

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(over Pastis-fuelled philosophical debates)

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Beatnik shindigs in old wine cellars…

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Ending up at a house parties, having no idea who the apartment belongs to.

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Saturday nights in.

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Inspiration-searching Sundays…

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Strolling down the Seine…

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Art students “picnicking” with their models…

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Not forgetting Springtime loves…

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And of course, too many damn cigarettes.

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All photos (c) LIFE